Before you can run a successful business, or even come up with a legitimate business plan, you need to start thinking like an entrepreneur. Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset can help you generate the game-changing ideas necessary to serve as the foundation for any business you might build in the future.
And on top of that, entrepreneurial mindsets equip you with critical thinking skills, creative outlooks, and cognitive processes that can help you solve even the most challenging problems – even if you never start a business of your own.
But how do entrepreneurs think? And how can you start thinking like one?
Run Value Equations
The first thing you should do is run value equations. In every decision you make, and in every objective you pursue in your course as an entrepreneur, there are costs and benefits to analyze. There are very few decisions in your entrepreneurial role that are clear, straightforward, and obvious. There are tradeoffs to almost every decision and there are strengths and weaknesses to weigh in every approach. If you want to get better at making these types of decisions and pursuing these types of actions, you need to be able to effectively discern these variables at a glance.
One of your most valuable tools here is calculating ROI, or your return on investment. If you spend money and time on a new tool or a new strategy, how does that tool or strategy benefit you in the future? If you pay $1,000 for this technology, is it going to provide you more than $1,000 of value over the course of its functional life?
Not all equations are this simple, but if you can start seeing the world in these terms, you’ll be able to make better decisions.
Focus on the Long Term
Entrepreneurs also have a tendency to focus on the long term, rather than immediate consequences. Instead of focusing on how a decision could impact you in the next few weeks, start thinking about how that decision could impact you months or years from now.
Obviously, you need to pay attention to the short-term consequences too; if a decision bankrupts your business in the next week, it doesn’t really matter what value the decision could have in a year. But generally, you should err on the side of long-term thinking.
See Failures and Shortfalls as Opportunities
Most people see failures as the end of the road, and as an exclusive negative. They see shortfalls as debilitating. But if you’re going to grow as an entrepreneur, you need to begin seeing failures and shortfalls as opportunities for innovation and growth. When an idea doesn’t work out, learn why it didn’t work out and put together a plan for how to do better next time. When your calculated risk doesn’t pay off, work your new knowledge into your next decision.
Entrepreneurs are notorious for being calculated risk takers. That doesn’t mean you can afford to recklessly gamble with your startup money, nor does it mean you should seek out unnecessary risks. Instead, it means you should accept risk for what it is and be willing to take on some risks if it means increasing your future potential. What’s most important here is that you’re able to objectively define the risk as much as possible; if you understand the stakes, and you understand the possible rewards, you can make much more logical, effective decisions.
Lean on Outside Perspectives
Entrepreneurs are typically leaders and free thinkers, but that doesn’t mean they operate in isolation. On the contrary, the most successful entrepreneurs of our time are ones that can lean on others to gather outside perspectives. Your customers, partners, engineers, accountants, marketers, and salespeople are all going to see your product in a different light; they each have different experiences and different goals leading them to biased ways of thinking. You’ll need to understand all their perspectives if you want to push your product to be as good as it can be.
Rest Your Mind
We like to think that the world’s greatest ideas arise from hard, dedicated work, but in reality, they’re more likely to arise from boredom. Resting your mind gives you an opportunity to think about complex problems and find more creative solutions. Building and running a business demands countless hours – but you also need to take time to step away from your biggest challenges.
You can’t transform your mind overnight, and thinking like an entrepreneur is no guarantee of future business success. But if you can incorporate some of these cognitive and creative elements into your business planning and lifestyle management, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed. Start with small, simple changes, and grow from there.